The Promenade and Fallaway Positions

Published in  
Ballroom Dance
March 9, 2021
There is something magical about moving with another human being to Waltz or Foxtrot's tunes, but it is not all roses. Promenade and Fallaway positions are challenging if we do not have a clear goal and picture in mind of what we want to achieve. Let's dig deeper.

Creating a variety of movement patterns and beautiful shapes in the different dances is one of our beautiful art forms' fascinating features. This task, however, is not easy to achieve. A solid understanding of the principles that allow two bodies to move together and establishing a sound system that we can follow to perform specific tasks like progression, rotation, rise, lowering, and change of positions is needed.

Today, we will be focusing on one of the all-time problematic areas- the promenade and fallaway positions. These beautiful body arrangements allow both partners to move in the same direction- forward or back. The goal is to develop a simple method for achieving the positions from various entries and give you examples so you can start using that method on your own.

What are the Promenade and Fallaway positions?

In Ballroom dancing, the term position describes how the lead and follow's bodies move in relation to each other. The default position for International Standard is the Closed position. In the closed position, both lead and follow, facing each other, and while one moves forward, the other moves back and vice versa while maintaining contact through their Right sides.

Imagine if we are limited to this one position and dance a 2-minute waltz, for example, in the same position. It might become a little boring so let's introduce a new body position and explore how it works.

The promenade position is the first position introduced to dancers other than the closed. It is a position in which partners will maintaining their body contact, this time with their left sides. The bodies' new contact point will create a V shape position that will allow both partners to move in the same direction- forward.

The fallaway position is absolutely the same as the promenade; the only difference is that this time the partners will be moving in the same configuration but backward instead of forward like in the promenade.

Easy way to think about those positions is:

The bodies are in a V-shaped position, where the contact point is Right (Lead) to Left (Follow) side and both partners move in the same direction:

Promenade- we move forward.

Fallaway- we move backward.

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How do we achieve these positions?

The promenade or the fallaway position can be achieved in many different ways, depending on the preceding figure. It is important to note that both partners have a specific role to play while adjusting our bodies to create the positions. More precisely, each partner turns a different body part depending on the type of promenade. To achieve the promenade or fallаway positions, we rarely use BOTH our hips or our ribs (shoulders).

To make things very clear and straightforward, we will separate our promenade entrances into two categories- Left and Right turns to PP. Each of those will contain two subcategories- Forward and Backward turn into the promenade, and we will look at how we go about creating the promenade from the Lead perspective and the Follow perspective. Let's get started.

The Promenade Position

Left Turn to PP

Forward L turn to PP

Lead: Turns the HIPS

Follow: Turns the RIBS

Example: Open Telemark

Backward L turn to PP

Lead: Turns the HIPS

Follow: Turns the RIBS

Example: Outside Change to PP

Right Turn to PP

Forward R turn to PP

Lead: Turns the RIBS

Follow: Turns the HIPS

Example: Turning Lock to R, Hover Telemark

Backward R turn to PP

Lead: Turns the RIBS

Follow: Turns the HIPS

Example: Open Impetus

If you carefully review the chart above, you will notice that for all Left turns to PP, the LEAD is turning the HIPS and the Follow is turning the RIBS, and for all the Right turns to PP the lead is turning the RIBS and the follow is turning the HIPS.

The Fallaway Position

Achieving the Fallaway position can be done generally in two ways- a forward left turn and a backward right turn. There can be variations to the entrance depending on how elaborate the step is but those are the two most common scenarios for dancing the fallaway position.

Left Turn to Fallaway

Forward L turn to Fallaway

Lead: Turns the HIPS

Follow: Turns the RIBS

Example: Fallaway Reverse Slip PIvot

Right Turn to Fallaway

Backward R turn to PP

Lead: Turns the RIBS

Follow: Turns the HIPS

Example: Fallaway Ronde ( American Smooth), Natural Fallaway

How to use this information?

  1. Analyze the type of position at take the appropriate steps.
  2. Determine the direction of the turn to PP or Fallaway- right or left.
  3. Determine your job as a lead or a follow. Should you turn the hip or the ribs?
  4. Enjoy dancing.

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I hope you find this "system" for organizing your knowledge helpful and you are no longer dreading to dance in these beautiful positions. Remember, in Ballroom dancing and specifically in International Standard; it is not about doing a lot; it is about doing the right thing at the right time. Just like we discussed above, turning one body part at a time will help you "fit" with your partner better.

Happy Dancing!

And, remember- create, inspire, dance. Everywhere. Everyday!

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